The All Progressives Congress, APC, is billed to dominate the House of Assembly election slated for March 18, 2023, in Ekiti State due to the impressive performance of Governor Biodun Oyebanji and its acceptability among the electorate.
In the last five months, the Governor has proven the sceptics wrong, by undertaking some landmark achievements in the civil service.
In actual fact, this reflected in the outcome of the February 25, 2023, presidential and National Assembly poll, where the APC overwhelmingly won for the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while also clearing all the three Senate and six House of Representatives seats, with the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, winning none.
Looking at the trajectories of elections in Ekiti since 1999, the ruling party had always been dominating the House of Assembly. In 1999, the Alliance for Democracy won virtually all the seats in the assembly under the Otunba Niyi Adebayo-led government. The PDP repeated the same feat under the Ayo Fayose-led government in 2003.
The only time two parties had equal numbers of lawmakers codenamed ’13-13′, was in 2007 under the administration of Engr Segun Oni. The PDP and the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria paraded 13 lawmakers each, which made the assembly pulsating and tension-soaked for four years.
This peculiarity came to the fore owing to the fact that Major General Adetunji Olurin, the head of emergency administration declared by President Olusegun Obasanjo, after Fayose’s impeachment, conducted the 2007 polls in Ekiti, which gave equal leverage to all parties.
The magic wand wielded by Dr Kayode Fayemi, by clearing all the seats in the 2011 and 2019 elections, were clear and well amplified testimonies to the fact that the ruling party always holds the ace in any assembly poll in Ekiti.
Another factor that may help the ruling party is the seeming polarisation of the main opposition party, PDP. The non-committal attitude of strong party members and leaders to buoy the party’s fortunes in elections, has been a great albatross militating against the PDP.
Besides the wide margin of winning in the last presidential poll, the ruling party won in unexpected units and wards in Ekiti, which signalled that the PDP was gradually waning and emasculating.
As of now, the Fayose-led group is loyal to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. This group doesn’t see eye-to-eye with those loyal to the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku.
Most disturbing is the fact that a chunk of party’s opinion moulders and power-wielders, are also hobnobbing with Segun Oni-led Social Democratic Party.
By all indications, the trio of APC, PDP and SDP fielded candidates across the 26 state constituencies in Ekiti. The vote bank that should ordinarily be meant for the PDP would be shared with SDP and the two opposition parties may not go far, unless a miracle happens.
Though, as strong and coordinated as APC seems to be, the party is laced with a lot of internal crises. Some of the returning candidates, like the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Hakeem Jamiu, Hon. Adeoye Aribasoye in Ikole constituency 2, Hon Abiodun Fawekun in Ido/Osi constituency 1, Hon. Teju Okuyiga in Gbonyin constituency and Hon. Lateef Akanle in Ekiti East Constituency 2, are all facing stiff and heated opposition.
The same scenario is fiercely playing out in Ekiti West constituency 2, where Hon Bode Johnson Oyekola is the APC candidate. Some powder brokers in the constituency are strongly averse to the alleged brazen fashion the candidate was imposed by a former commissioner in the council. This is also eliciting tension and anti-party activities.
Ordinarily, all these constituencies could have been windows of opportunities for the opposition to borrow into the ruling party, but the factional crisis in PDP and the debilitating effect of the fallout of the governorship poll, where Oni lost out, may rob the SDP of such opportunity.
While the PDP seems not disturbed by its internal crisis, which signalled that the party has no stake in the assembly election, the APC has intensified fence-mending efforts to cement its fold.
Recently, the Deputy Governor, Mrs Monisade Afuye visited some constituencies to interface with party stakeholders and appealed passionately to them to forget whatever happened at the primaries and work for all the candidates.
Mrs Afuye described the legislature as the intellectual hub of government and lubricant for the smooth running of government by the executive.
She warned that Governor Oyebanji will find it herculean to administer if the opposition maintains the majority or has equal strength or parades a simple minority in the assembly, boasting that the party is resolute to clear all the 26 assembly seats to lubricate all frictions for Oyebanji.
With these factors, the APC may likely have a field day on Saturday, by winning at least 22 out of the 26 seats.